Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes.

Devizes Museum in Long Street.
Devizes Museum was founded in 1853 and is owned and run by the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.  Its collections are "Designated" meaning they have been officially recognised as being of national importance.   I visited on Tuesday to take some photos for a talk I will be giving in Brunswick about Avebury and prehistoric man.  The museum houses a big collection of artefacts gathered from Avebury and the surrounding area.   The whole collection gives the history of man in the local area from the Neolithic 4500 to 2000BC, through to  Recent History from 1500 AD to the present day.  This week was half term, and the museum was full of excited children playing with the "hands on" exhibits.  I will have to visit again, as one visit is never enough.  The museum is housed in several buildings that front Long Street, a most beautifully preserved street of 16th and 17th century houses.  It is the loveliest street in Devizes. 
Flint arrowheads in a quiver.  There are four types of Neolithic arrowheads: transverse, leaf shaped, asymmetrical and triangular.  A Neolithic wooden bow, originally two metres long, has been found on the Somerset Levels.
The display above shows an archer's quiver holding several arrows, and a reconstructed axe, with its wooden handle and stone chopping head.  It must have taken many hours to chop down a tree with such crude tools.  An implement like the one below has never been found, although many tiny sharp flint pieces have been found in areas of habitation.  Archeologists think the little flints may have been set into a wooden block and used as a tool for grating plants and shredding flesh.  I rather like the idea.
A shredding board, a hypothetical tool which was possibly used for shredding flesh.

A delightful model of the flint mines at Easton Down.
This delightful model shows three men working in a flint mine at Easton Down, a few miles from Salisbury.  The silted-up mine shafts were excavated in 1930.  Amongst the finds were antler picks, rake fragments, picks and chisels made of flint.  the axes were made here, but ground and polished somewhere else.  I like the little man on the ladder and the poor soul lying on his side digging out the flints.  To the left and just out of sight in the photo is a modern model of a tiny fluffy dog lying on a blanket.  I smiled, as it has been added to made the model more interesting for children.

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